Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Forelle Ensemble travels through NSW/ACT in Austrian "Schubertiaden" style.

How lovely is this? Celebrating 200 years of an Austrian musical tradition, newly formed Australian Chamber Music Ensemble, the Forelle Ensemble, is currently travelling through NSW/ACT in the spirit of Franz Schubert whose Lieder (songs) were played to small groups of friends in intimate musical soirees that became known as "Schubertiaden”. The Forelle Ensemble will perform 10 concerts, taking listeners on a musical journey to Austria in Bowral, Canberra, Albury, Young and the gorgeous setting of the Hunter Valley's Winmark Wines.

Forelle is the brain-child of James Armstrong, winner of the ‘Austria Scholarship’ granted by Sydney Youth Orchestras and Austrian National Tourist Office. Visiting Vienna and Salzburg in early 2020, James fell in love with Austrian chamber music, especially the music of Franz Schubert. 


The Forelle Ensemble.©

To honour Schubert and as a reference to one of the composer’s most famous chamber music pieces ‘Forellenquintett’ (Trout Quintet), James Armstrong formed the Forelle Ensemble with four fellow students of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Members include Lilly Bennett (double bass), James Armstrong (violin), Angela Shin (cello), Estelle Shircore Barker (piano) and Aisha Goodman (viola).

The first documented Schubertiade took place 200 years ago in 1821 and the term still refers to intimate concerts and festivals around the world, in all kinds of settings. Most famous is the Schubertiade Festival in Austria's Alpine province Vorarlberg with around 80 events and 35,000 visitors annually, making it the biggest Schubert Festival in the world. 

Musicians Schubertiade, Bregenzerwald, Vorarlberg. (Bregenzerwald Tourism, Christopher Lingg.)

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to play this beautiful repertoire of Schubert’s music. We can reimagine it in the sense that we are performing music which was composed in the Austrian countryside and we are bringing it to the countryside here in NSW and ACT.”, says James Armstrong. “The works on the program are very colourful, each in their own way, to the extent that I imagine each piece as a postcard of Austria. The music intimately reflects the landscape and lifestyle - from the elegant and lavish decor of Viennese salons to the striking snow-capped Alps and lush green fields of the countryside. Schubert’s music illustrates these settings so sublimely.”

“James Armstrong stole the hearts of the Viennese with both his incredible talent as a young violinist but also with his curiosity and interest in Austrian classical music and culture during his time in Vienna early last year” says Astrid Gruchmann-Licht, Director of the Austrian National Tourist Office in Sydney. “This year we were delighted to find out that James wanted to share his passion for Schubert - and for Austria - with Australian audiences in regional NSW and ACT and we partnered with the Forelle Ensemble to bring this project to life. I view it as a true collaboration and love the idea of an Australian Schubertiade”. 

James Armstrong performing Chamber Music at Hotel Sacher, Vienna, above, and enjoying beautiful Vienna, below. (ANTO, Marion Carniel.)


Tour Dates 

Friday 11th June, 6.30pm: Schubertiade Opening Concert, Sydney 

Sunday 20th June, 2.30pm*E: St Jude’s Church, Bowral 

Wednesday 23rd June: Residence of the Austrian Ambassador, Canberra 

Thursday 24th June: Hausmusik event at private residence, Albury 

Friday 25th June, 7.00pm*E: St Matthew’s Church, Albury 

Saturday 26th June: Hausmusik event at private residence, Young 

Sunday 27th June, 12.00pm*: Ballinaclash Orchard and Cellardoor, Young 

Tuesday 29th June, 6.00pm*E: Young Regional School of Music, Young 

Friday 2nd July, 6.00pm*E: Winmark Wines, Hunter Valley 

James Armstrong  with Astrid Gruchmann-Licht, Director of the Austrian National Tourist Office in Sydney, at a Viennese Kaffehaus. (ANTO, Marion Carniel.)

* Public events: tickets and more information are available on Eventbrite (E) or via the venue website

Winmark Wines

Austria information

Source: Austria National Tourism news release

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